Ask Rael Q & A: 20th Issue

by Rael Isacowitz

How often should you change your Pilates routine?

I find people rely too much on changing their routine. On the other hand, I have never done two workouts that were exactly the same. Let me explain this further.

I view a Pilates session as a form of meditation in motion. The movement enables us to go deeper into our bodies and minds. In order to do this, there must be a portion of the session that is already learned and embedded in the muscle memory; part of the subconscious. These movements, which you have performed many times before, serve as a warm-up and a path into deeper focus, concentration and body awareness. That does not mean we are not always striving to fine-tune these movements, but we do not need to learn them from scratch.

A ballet dancer invariably does a barre when beginning a class, prior to learning new choreography. A martial artist goes through a set routine when starting a training session, before learning new moves and swimmers are accustomed to doing well-learned drills to start off their workouts. I grew up studying the Martha Graham technique, and the first half of the class, if not more, was very familiar to me.

At the same time, each session should be sprinkled with new repertoire or new concepts; with movements that are challenging and stimulating. I like a client to walk our of every session having learned something new; new repertoire, variations on familiar repertoire, or some new insights or concepts.

For me, Pilates is a companion for life. As with every meaningful, long-term relationship, the foundation is familiar and perhaps even repetitive, but there are also new things that are only revealed or discovered over time. Learn to enjoy both the familiar and the new in the same way, and hopefully both elements will keep you motivated and excited for years to come.

Are there any outstanding workshops, conferences and conventions in 2016 that you’re planning to attend?

Here are some general guidelines in selecting a conference to attend. First look at the lineup of presenters and the topics they are teaching. Read their bios and the descriptions of the workshops or presentations. Do not restrict yourself by going only to well-known presenters. Some of the lesser-known, younger teachers are doing amazing work. Try choosing locations that will allow you to do some sightseeing and enjoy extra curricular activities.

I have a busy teaching schedule, so I rarely am able to attend events unless I’m appearing in them. That’s my loss; there are many good Pilates conferences nowadays. What follows is by no means a comprehensive list, just those that I am directly or indirectly involved in.

I will be presenting in Whistler Canada for a special Pilates retreat on February 9 – 12th followed by presenting the Mentor Program in Prato, Italy February 25 – 27, 2016. I recommended visiting the BASI Pilates web site ( for information about the events and how to register for them.

Of course there is the PMA Conference, which is an industry “must”. I love this event, but unfortunately I was unable to attend this years conference in Denver, Colorado. The PMA will be in Phoenix, Arizona next year at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa- need I say any more?

On April 16 – 17, 2016, I am very proud to be presenting the Learn From The Leaders Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, CA. This unique health and wellness retreat is unlike any other! BASI Pilates will be welcoming presenters from across the globe including Debora Lessen, Michele Larsson, and Karen Clippinger in addition to 16 BASI Faculty presenting on a variety of topics, there is something for everyone. Learn From The Leaders will also mark the debut of the BASI Systems equipment in the states, there now exists an equipment company that will specifically look after the needs of the Pilates professional. I highly recommend this conference to all Pilates professionals looking to expand their education as well as connect with others in this incredible Pilates community.

All education is good and teachers must continuously expand their knowledge. So, find a conference near you (or further afield if your budget allows) and remember to have some fun – balance is all-important!


This article first appeared in the January 2012 issue of Pilates Style Magazine. Responses modified with updated event information. For more great stories about Pilates, check out the latest issue of Pilates Style, on newsstands nationwide, in the app store or at

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